For those who have been following figure skating, there is one name that surely rings a bell – Evan Lysacek. More than being a US National and World Champion, he is also an Olympics medalist. Not to mention, he is a celebrity even outside the skating rink, with his most famous stint being his appearance at Dancing with the Stars. He is also a coach, choreographer, and endorser.
In this article, we will look at the colorful life of Evan Lysacek, including his professional career. It has not been all rainbows and butterflies, but he emerged from everything. Let’s take a look at where he has been and where he is right now.
Lysacek was born on June 4, 1985, in Chicago, Illinois. Although, he grew up in Naperville, Illinois. He moved from one place to another and has recently been married.
His father was a building contractor while his mother was a substitute teacher. He has two siblings, both girls. Sports seemed to run in their blood as his younger sister used to be a part of a national volleyball team.
While he was born and raised in the United States, he has European blood. He has Czech and Italian roots. It was in 1925 when his great-grandfather moved from Czechoslovakia to the United States.
He spent his younger years with his family living in Illinois, but after graduating from high school, they eventually moved to Los Angeles. After this, they have also been living in different cities, including Las Vegas.
He had his early education at Tate Woods Elementary School. He eventually transferred to Spring Brook Elementary and continued studying at Gregory Middle School. He finished high school at Neuqua Valley in 1999 where he was bestowed the Presidential Award for Academic Excellence.
At one point, Lysacek also formally learned method acting. He had classes At the Professional Art School. This has provided him with acting knowledge and skills, which he was eventually able to use in his appearance in Skate Great, an independent short film wherein he had a role that is close to his reality – an Olympics gold medalist.
Aside from figure skating, Lysacek also has a prolific career in different fields. In 2014, he moved to New York and pursued a job in commercial real estate. Within just a year, he also worked for Vera Wang, who previously designed costumes for his competitions.
Lysacek married Duangpatra “Dang” Bodiratnangkura in Bangkok, Thailand in December 2019, roughly about eight months after their proposal. A power couple, Dang was successful in her own right. She is from a highly-revered family in Thailand but spent most of her years in Los Angeles, which is also where the two met, and eventually, fell in love with each other.
Dang and her family were a prolific real estate developer of some of the best properties in Belair, Beverly Hills, and Santa Monica, among other locations.
They first met over a group dinner at Il Piccolino in Los Angeles. The rest, as they say, is history. They were almost inseparable instantly after they met until the time Lysacek needs to go on training and tour again. Despite the distance, they stayed in love and are now happily married.
Lysacek was eight years old when he started skating. It was his grandmother who had the dreamt of making him a part of Ice Capades, a traveling show with theatrical skating performances. At a young age, he also wanted to become a hockey player. This was his motivation for enrolling in figure skating lessons. Shortly after his classes, he started participating in different competitions and eventually made a name for himself.
Professional Figure Skating Career
Without a doubt, Lysacek is a popular figure skater. From his humble beginnings to his Olympic medal, he persevered to reach his current status. For sure, no one will dispute that he deserves where he is right now.
The Start of a Prolific Career
It all started in 1996. This was the year when Lysacek recorded his first of many wins. He won at the Juvenile Level and was awarded the US National title. For those who do not know, Juvenile is the lowest out of the five skills division of the United States Figure Skating Association. It is followed by Intermediate, Novice, Junior, and Senior. More than just age, a person needs to pass a test to achieve the next levels.
A year after qualifying for Juvenile, he eventually moved to Novice. This was after he placed fourth at the Junior Olympics. In 1999, at 13 years old, he bagged the US Championships.
Moving to the Junior Level
Lysacek entered the Junior level in 1999. He debuted with his competition at the International Skating Union Grand Prix. It is a series of international junior level competitions organized by the ISU.
1999 to 2000
One of the highlights of his initial Junior years was his back-to-back win from Novice to Junior. He was the second person to do it. At the age of 14, things were looking pretty good for Lysacek, which is an indication of the bright future that is set for him.
After the US Championships, he competed at the Gardena Spring Trophy, which is now called the Egna trophy. The latter is an annual figure skating competition held in Italy. He was awarded the silver medal.
2000 to 2001
In the 2000 to 2001 season, he continued showing his strength. He again competed for the Junior Grand Prix where he finished with two silvers. He was the seventh qualifier and ended up finishing in eighth place.
It was also in the same season where he placed 12th at the US Championships. In the 2001 World Junior Championships, following the withdrawal of Ryan Bradley as a result of an injury, Lysacek was eventually named the second alternate. He went home with a silver medal while another American skater went home with the gold. That was also the first time since 1987 when the country had a back-to-back podium finish.
2001 to 2002
This was one of the worst moments in the professional figure skating career of Lysacek. He suffered from several injuries, which also affected his confidence during the season. He had broken ribs, which represented a loss in training opportunity. Following the tragic 9/11 attack, competitions were cancelled, which also gave him the time to recuperate.
During the Championships in 2002, he ended up in 12th place and did not make it to the World Junior Championships. In the same year, however, he competed at the Triglav Trophy, an annual figure skating competition in Slovenia, which was named after the mountain where the event was held. He took home the gold medal.
2002 to 2003
After a sprained ankle, three broken ribs, and a lot of disappointments, Lysacek changed his training program in 2002. It all proved to be worth it when he won two silvers in the 2002 to 2003 ISU Junior Grand Prix. In the 2003 Championships, he placed seventh. He was named the third alternate for the 2003 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships, which was held in Beijing, China. He placed tenth in this competition. In the same year, he became part of the Junior Worlds team where he competed as the sole male American skater.
2003 to 2004
When he graduated from high school, he also had a change of coach. For this season, he won the Junior Grand Prix. He also finished fifth at the US Championships in 2004. More so, he went home with the bronze medal in the Four Continents event in the same year. In the World Junior Championships, meanwhile, he won silver.
Cementing His Reputation at the Championship Level
As earlier mentioned, the Senior or Championship is the highest level based on the rankings of the United States Figure Skating Association.
2004 to 2005
When he turned 19 in 2004, Lysacek made his senior debut. He joined the 2004 Skate America fresh from a hip injury. The latter did not prove to be a significant obstacle since he won fifth place. After just a few weeks, he had the same place in the 2004 Cup of Russia. The next year, he bagged the bronze at the US Championships. He also competed and won at the 2005 Four Continents and World Championships.
2005 to 2006
He was back at the Grand Prix in 2005. He finished second at Skate America. In the same year, he also placed second at the NHK Trophy, an invitational competition that is also the last leg of the ISU Grand Prix. In the same year, he became the only American to qualify for the Grand Prix Final. Unfortunately, he had to back out of the competition as a result of inflammation and tendon disorder, which would have limited his performance.
In 2006, he made it to the Winter Olympic team. He finished tenth and ended up with a bad case of stomach flu after the program. Not feeling better, he almost withdrew from the competition. He decided to push through with the competition, and this is when he showed one of the best free skates in his professional career. He finished fourth place, unable to claim a medal. The 2006 season ended with him winning a bronze at the Calgary World Championships. He had a bacterial infection to the point that he was coughing blood. When he was done with the competitions that year, he became part of the tour of Champions on Ice. He became a full-time cast, realizing what his grandmother has always dreamed for him.
2006 to 2007
In 2006, he continued amassing medals in different competitions. He finished second at Skate America, first at Cup of China, and became the fourth qualifier at the Grand Prix Final. Because of his hip injury, he withdrew from the competition.
He competed in the 2007 US Championships, which is also what gave him his first national title. Just one week after that, he was competing at the Four Continents, where he eventually went home with his second title from the competition. In the summer of 2007, he was again touring as a full-time cast of Champions on Ice.
2007 to 2008
He started the season he joined Skate America. He fell during his performance but still managed to win free skate. He again competed at Cup of China where he went home second in the free skate and also second overall. He also competed at the Grand Prix Final in the same year and he finished second.
For the 2008 Championships, there was initially a tie between Lysacek and Johny Weir. After a tie-breaker, however, Lysacek went home with the win, which was also his second national title. The same year also saw him winning third overall at Four Continents and became part of the US team for the World Championships. Unfortunately, as a result of another injury, he was forced to withdraw from the competition. Despite the injury, he was able to join the summer tour of Stars on Ice, which was another figure ice skating show.
2008 to 2009
Lysacek won bronze at the 2008 Skate America. Just a week after, he went to compete at the Skate Canada International where he also finished with a bronze medal. For the Grand Prix Final that year, he was the second alternate.
For the 2009 Championships the following year, he had a bronze overall finish. Because of his win, he automatically qualified for the Four Continents Championships and World Championships. He won silver for the former, and for the latter, he took home the victory for the free skate segment to win the overall competition. Since 1996, he was the first American man to have won the World Title. Because of his win and that of another skater, the US was given three slots for the Winter Olympics. 2009 also marked his second year of joining the Stars on Ice tour.
2009 to 2010
The year started with the Cup of China where he won second overall. It was followed by his sixth appearance at the Skate of America, which gave him a gold medal. He was also the second qualifier for the Grand Prix Final that year.
In the 2010 US Championships, Lysacek won the silver medal. He was also named to the Olympics team.
In the 2010 Winter Olympics, he won the gold medal overall against Evgeni Plushenko of Russia with just a point margin of 1.31. Lysacek scored 265.67, which is what secured him the gold in an upset to Plushenko. Even before the Olympics, the two have already been heavily pitted by the press. Controversies arose left and right, but in the end, Lysacek was triumphant.
Following his win at the Olympics, he withdrew his participation at the 2010 World Championships. With the medal he brought to the country, he was recognized by the US Olympic Committee as the Sportsman of the Year. To add, he received the James Sullivan Award in the same year. The award was given by the Amateur Athletic Union to outstanding amateur athletes in the US.
Unarguably, his 2010 victory in Vancouver was the event that cemented his reputation in the global sports world. Despite his many achievements in the past, anyone would agree that nothing is more lucrative than an Olympics medal.
In several interviews following his gold medal win, his coach noted that the victory came as an utter and delightful shock. Before the Olympics, he had already won medals in the last 15 competitions where he participated. He also had three world medals for the US, which was the second-highest for the United States after Todd Eldredge. Despite all his victories, it is also worth noting that he had several injuries. Amidst his health problems, he was able to pull off a triumph that remains yet to be rivaled by other US figure skaters.
2010 and Beyond
For the 2010 to 2011 season, Lysacek did not join any competitive event. Nonetheless, there was also no announcement of his retirement. While he continued training, he had a financial disagreement with his team and eventually led to giving up the 2011 Skate America. He also did not join the 2012 US Championships. He agreed to finally compete at the 2012 Skate America, but he had to back out eventually as a result of a groin injury. In November of the same year, he had to go through surgery as a result of a lower abdomen injury. This has also led to his withdrawal from the 2013 US Championships, citing his health as the biggest obstacle. While he was expected to compete in the 2014 Winter Olympics, he had a labrum injury, which has prevented him from joining. In 2014, during a TV interview, he admitted that his professional skating career was coming to a close. While he did not play at the Olympics, he had his stint at NBC where he was a games analyst. In 2015, Lysacek was inducted into the US Figure Skating Hall of Fame.
Dancing with the Stars
Another highlight in the life of Lysacek was his inclusion in Dancing with the Stars, an American TV show that features celebrities being paired with professional dancers. He was the first Olympic figure skater to appear in the program. He appeared at the show’s tenth season in 2010. This was fresh from his win at the Olympics, so he was a big name at that time.
In the show, Lysacek was a partner of Anna Trebunskaya, a professional ballroom and Latin dancer. The pair finished second.
Lysacek and His Costumes
While it is his techniques that made him a revered figure skater, there’s no doubt that his costumes also had a pivotal role in his career. His costumes have been designed by some of the most prestigious names in the fashion world, which include Christian Dior and Alexander McQueen. The most notable, however, would be Vera Wang as Lysacek even worked for her in 2016 as a creative consultant. Wang created the mock tuxedo that Lysacek wore when he won the 2009 World Championships and the 2010 Winter Olympics.
A Gold Medalist with a Heart
Lysacek is a champion not only in the skating rink but even in real life. He has been an ardent supporter of numerous charities, including Make-a-Wish Foundation and Ronald McDonald Charity House. He has also supported A Time for Heroes, which is a celebrity event for the benefit of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. This is a non-profit that is promoting pediatric AIDS awareness and prevention. Another charity that he has actively supported was the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. He also played a significant role at Figure Skating in Harlem, which has been helping women figure skaters.
A Trusted Endorser
Through the years, Lysacek has also won the hearts of different companies and he has endorsed several brands. Especially after his win at the Olympics, many businesses have been quick to cash in on his popularity. Ultimately, Lysacek has financially benefitted from all of these. Ralph Lauren, AT&T, and Coke were some of the most popular companies that had Lysacek as their endorser.
Despite his handsome face and unsurpassed achievements, Lysacek has not been as popular as an endorser as other sportsmen. According to business experts, this is because it is quite challenging to market him as a sports icon. Men are traditionally associated with more intense contact sports, such as basketball, football, rugby, or boxing. While figure skating is known in the country, it was quite hard to sell someone like Lysacek.
There’s no doubt that Lysacek had a colorful life as a figure skater. He amassed some of the most coveted medals and made an appearance at the most prestigious competitions in the world. If there’s one thing that he had to endure, however, it would be the recurring injuries. As a result of active training, he had sustained serious problems, many of which have prevented him from unleashing his best performance. Despite all these problems, Lysacek made a mark as one of the most memorable names in US figure skating.